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Most wonderful time of the year for Pep as Manchester City eye treble repeat

Pep Guardiola is relishing the challenge of leading Manchester City to a repeat of last term’s treble, saying the final few months of the season are his favourite period in any campaign.

City remain in the hunt on three fronts again, sitting one point adrift of Liverpool at the Premier League summit and beating Copenhagen 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

They are also favourites to lift the FA Cup for a third time under Guardiola, and they can book their spot in the quarter-finals of that competition when they go to Luton Town on Tuesday.

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City face a vital run of games between now and the end of March, with Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal among their next four Premier League opponents, and this is typically the point in the calendar at which Guardiola’s men put their foot down.

Asked if this period of the season is the time he enjoys most at Monday’s pre-match press conference, Guardiola said: “Yes. It’s better to play for that than being 10th in the table.

“If you lose, bye bye. It’ so nice. After the game February will be over, and there are just three months until the end of the season and we arrive here still being there.

“Tomorrow is a final, just like the Premier League is in every game and of course in the Champions League too. The decisive period of the season is here in front of us.

“It’s not far away in front of us and we are going for it. It’s a good test to see how our rhythm and our mental consistency is. What we have in the next month, everybody knows what we are playing for.

“In October or September, the expectations are far, far away and in that moment you don’t think about titles.

“We will see at the end of March or the beginning of April. It all depends on what we have done this month.

“I said many times, I defend my players because of what they have done. I know how difficult it is. Still we have the humility and are humble and have the competitiveness to do it again.”

Guardiola was also able to issue a positive team news update ahead of Tuesday’s game, with Jack Grealish and Josko Gvardiol back in full training after recovering from knocks.

“We train this afternoon but I think everybody is fine,” Guardiola said.

Asked specifically about Gvardiol’s condition, the City boss added: “He is good, whether he is available, I don’t know, but he is training without much pain.”

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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